McCormack Speaks

June 12, 2018
by saadiaahmad001

Jeffrey Pugh, Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution, Earns Top Award For Article on Universal Citizenship in Ecuador

This year, the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies (MACLAS) awarded Jeffrey Pugh, Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution at the McCormack Graduate School, with the Harold Eugene Davis Prize, which is awarded to a MACLAS member in good standing for a book chapter or article published in the past two years.

Pugh received his award at the annual meeting in March for his article entitled, “Universal Citizenship through the Discourse and Policy of Rafael Correa,” published in Latin American Politics and Society in 2017. The chair of the Davis Prize committee, Dr. Michael Schroeder, commended Pugh for his “nuanced, multilayered, exceptionally well-written, and meticulously researched and argued” analysis on the discourse of universal citizenship in Ecuador. At the 2018 MACLAS conference in Pennsylvania, he explained the selection committee’s decision-making process:

“[Pugh offers] a compelling framework for addressing one of the most important issues of the 21st century, and one that only promises to become more salient with the social and political dynamics set in motion by global climate change. On what basis do ordinary people make claims for rights? The emerging concept of universal citizenship is fascinating, provocative, and holds many comparative implications. The article’s analysis of Ecuador and President Rafael Correa’s use of universal citizenship discourse to advance his political goals while constraining boundaries of membership in the nation and claims making offers a compelling strategy for analysis. The article… offers a powerful framework for addressing one of the most important issues of the contemporary era, a framework that can be applied far beyond Pugh’s case study of Ecuador. [It] is attentive to a host of countervailing and contradictory pressures and forces, and helps to place Latin America in the center of contemporary debates that have far-reaching global implications.”

Each year, MACLAS offers several awards, grants, and prizes for excellence in scholarship and service. Founded in 1979, MACLAS is an organization that brings together scholars, researchers, students, and professionals in the Mid-Atlantic who have interests in disciplines and pursuits related to Latin America. Pugh served as MACLAS President during the 2013-2014 academic school year.

June 6, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
1 Comment

The Missing Voice

by Jack Whitacre, PhD Student in Global Governance and Human Security

Over the course of the last year, our PhD cohort in McCormack School’s Global Governance and Human Security program explored different international organizations from around the world. By studying the canon of global governance and international organizational theory, we acquired new tools for understanding factors that shape the world. Part of this journey involved adopting a more critical approach and questioning claims of international organizations, like the Arctic Council (AC), quantitatively. This reflection sheds light on unique findings that display UMass Boston’s encouragement for interdisciplinary work.

After learning how Arctic indigenous groups bear disproportionate environmental burdens in the High North, I started studying the Arctic Council in greater depth. The Arctic Council was designed in large part to uplift indigenous voices, heritage, culture, livelihood amidst a changing Arctic environment. The following organizations are Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami COuncil. The education at UMass Boston helped me ask whether the Arctic Council was truly living up to its environmental and human rights ambitions. First, analyzing digital archives revealed that indigenous considerations have significantly decreased in Senior Arctic Observer (SAO) meeting minutes from 1999 to 2017. Second, state and external organizations were twice as likely to spearhead indigenous projects and debates than the indigenous groups themselves. And third, indigenous issues appeared in only 0.0004375% of content in a typical SAO document. For this reason, it can be argued that indigenous people are more subjects than participants in the AC’s SAO.

By studying one of the most democratic and praised international organizations with a critical lens and expanded tool kit, I found gaps and areas for possible improvement. This research increased my capacity for literature reviews, statistical analyses, and writing. The quantitative story of the Arctic Council, indigenous participants, and missing voices is an important, but untold, history of non-state actors. It represents a vulnerability in the Arctic Council’s mission, and a factor that may shape the future of the forum. To borrow a phrase from the Japanese Ministry, my first year in the Global Governance and Human Security program taught me how to envision a world where people “live healthy, productive lives in harmony with nature.” Hopefully, sharing a snapshot from this journey helps make these aspirations a reality.

June 5, 2018
by saadiaahmad001

Center for Social Policy Hosts Annual Conference For Improving Job Training, Workforce Systems in MA

Earlier this spring, the Center for Social Policy hosted the 15th annual Sharing Skills-Building Connections Commonwealth Workforce Coalition Conference in Worcester. The Commonwealth Workforce Coalition is a program of the Center for Social Policy at the McCormack Graduate School. The statewide initiative offers research-based training and networking events to strengthen the capacity of Massachusetts’ job training and workforce system to produce better employment and earnings outcomes for both unemployed and underemployed residents.

Center for Social Policy director Susan Crandall welcomed the group of nearly 300 workforce development practitioners. She explained that the conference theme of Advancing Equity was chosen because the “Commonwealth Workforce Coalition is on the frontline of inclusion and helping workers advance.” The CWC has always had a strong emphasis on making sure everyone has what they need to be successful in their pursuit of employment, Crandall continued. She encouraged participants to soak in workshops on diversity and inclusion to “learn how to get even better at our craft” of job training and development.

Crandall then welcomed morning keynote speaker Secretary Rosalin Acosta of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Secretary Acosta reminded attendees that not every community and every population is benefiting from Massachusetts’ strong economy. She noted that “now is the time to work on equity, both in access to employment and pay.” She also encouraged employers to cast a wider net when it comes to hiring and to be more intentional and thoughtful regarding diversity. She also highlighted the importance of the statewide cross-agency Learn to Earn initiative, which leverages Center for Social Policy research on cliff effects to develop solutions for workers balancing public supports, such as childcare, with their efforts to advance in the workforce.

The conference featured impactful workshops relevant to the conference theme of Advancing Equity by community partners around the state, including EMPath, Commonwealth Corporation, Jobs for the Future, Jewish Vocational Services, WayFinders, Holyoke Community College, several Workforce Investment Boards, and the UMass Boston Institute for Community Inclusion.

The Platinum Sponsor of the CWC conference was the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. MGC Commissioner Bruce Stebbins delivered remarks about MGC’s ongoing efforts to ensure diversity. He highlighted the “Build A Life That Works” campaign, a first-of-its-kind statewide recruitment initiative which aims to increase tradeswomen in the building trades to 20% by 2020.

MGM Springfield General Manager Alex Dixon delivered the luncheon keynote address. Dixon spoke about MGM’s extensive workforce development efforts and the 3,000 jobs—many that are entry-level with opportunities for growth–available when the resort opens. In addition, MGC’s Director of Workforce, Supplier, and Diversity Development Jill Griffin led a workshop detailing MGC’s work to maximize access to careers created by the state’s emerging expanded gaming industry.

Additional conference sponsors included Boston Private Bank, CEDAC (Founding Partner), CHAPA, SkillWorks, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Partners Healthcare, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

“This kind of conference is exactly what the Center for Social Policy excels at,” noted David Cash, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, “leveraging its research expertise to convene the right people to address pressing issues of equity, job growth and economic development.”

June 5, 2018
by saadiaahmad001

Center for Social Policy Research Director Leads Conversation on Job Creation

Françoise Carré, Research Director at the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, spoke this spring at a symposium hosted by the MIT Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative. The symposium examined job quality across industries. Carre reviewed the findings and recommendations from her recently published Russell Sage book, Where Bad Jobs are Better.

Carré’s policy recommendations included raising the minimum wage, which would improve the quality of retail jobs, since retail workers hold about one-fourth of all minimum wage jobs in the U.S. She also recommends limiting the “hours arms race” that pressures stores to stay open overnight. She proposed policy changes to hours regulations targeted by geographic area and type of store.

Read more about Dr. Carré’s research and presentation here.

February 22, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

Gerontology Professor Marc Cohen Presents New “Policy Roadmap” for Future of LTSS Finance

This post originally appeared on the Gerontology Institute blog, written by Steven Syre.

What would a better way to finance long-term services and supports (LTSS) for older Americans really look like? Even more importantly: How would it perform?

Marc Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, and two colleagues took up that challenge and developed a new “policy roadmap” combining public catastrophic insurance with gap-filling private LTSS insurance focused on middle-income people.

“The fundamental LTSS financing problem is the absence of an effective insurance mechanism to protect people against the cost of extensive LTSS they may require over the course of their lives,” said Cohen, also a professor at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

Cohen and co-authors Judith Feder, a professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Melissa Favreault, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said their plan would enhance benefits for people with long-duration impairments, reduce unmet LTSS needs and mitigate burdens facing family caregivers.

The authors said their plan would enhance LTSS spending by 14 percent, reduce out-of-pocket spending by 15 percent and cut Medicaid spending by 23 percent, compared to projected spending under current law.

The public-insurance element of the plan would be financed with a 1 percent Medicare tax surcharge paid by taxpayers over the age of 40.

The authors described their proposal as providing an “analytical foundation for demonstrating how a shift from an LTSS system dependent on impoverishment and last-resort public financing to a financially sound insurance system that can provide meaningful protection for people with catastrophic LTSS needs.”

Cohen and Feder presented their plan at a Jan. 31 discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. They were joined on a panel by Gretchen E. Alkema, vice president of policy and communication at The SCAN foundation; Sheila Burke, a BPC fellow and strategic advisor at Baker Donelson; Cindy Mann, the former director of the Center for Medicaid and Anne Tumlinson, the founder of Daughterhood.

Under the plan, eligibility for public catastrophic coverage would be subject to waiting periods at age 65 ranging from one to four years, based on income. Higher earners would be subject to longer waiting periods.

Private insurance would offer a way to cover those up-front gap years. Based on the average cost of private policies on the individual market, the authors estimate gap-filling coverage would amount to 2-4 percent of income for all groups, except the lowest 20 percent of earners. Such costs are in the range of what people appear to be willing to spend for policies, according to the authors.

Individuals assessed with two or more limitations in activities of daily living or severe cognitive impairment expected to last longer than 90 days would qualify for public benefits once they satisfy the waiting period.

The model’s level of benefit payments is linked to direct service costs, excluding room and board. It would provide $110 per day, which was the average expense for five hours of service by home health aide in 2016 (though the benefit could be spent on nursing home care as well).

The authors said the 1 percent Medicare surcharge helping to finance the program would cost a worker earning the 2016 average covered wage of $48,642 about $41 per month, or when split evenly between employees and employers, about $21 in direct monthly costs to employees. They suggested the surcharge could be presented as a premium and taxpayers could be offered the opportunity to opt out of the plan.

Cohen and his co-authors acknowledged that the search for better ways to finance long-term services and supports is not high on America’s current political agenda. But they believe work on the issue now can pay dividends in the future.

“Research undertaken now on the design and challenges of specific proposals for LTSS financing reform will provide the necessary intellectual infrastructure and foundation for effective action when policymakers are inevitably forced to address the issue in the years ahead,” they wrote.

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